By Andris Pone – President, Coin Branding
This is why the United States, and much of the world, regards Canada as America’s 51st state – and much of Canada feels the same way.
Questions of whether Kanye West has any talent, or whether he is a complete jerk, are completely beside the point. If you’re a Canadian and reading this, and John Lennon and George Harrison came back from the grave to join the Beatles in headlining the Pan Am closing ceremonies, would you support the idea? Naturally your answer would be “no”, because to the host nation goes the right to showcase strictly homegrown talent, a right that no real country would regard as unimportant.
Canada showcased its plethora of talent at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and you didn’t see the London 2012 organizers squeezing Elvis clips betwixt Paul McCartney, Muse, The Who, Pink Floyd, Queen, Mr. Bean, the London Philharmonic, Monty Python or any of the myriad other breathtaking acts that made mincemeat – nay, Spam – of the claim that Beijing couldn’t be outdone.
But it’s apparently OK to bring in as headliner the American West, because we’re just America’s farm team.
Of course it could be that Canada is not at fault here, but just Toronto. It could be that Toronto, the most desperate of all Canadian cities to be branded American, and blinded by its need to be compared to New York and Chicago, thought nothing of the cultural coup d’état of making Kanye the Games’ biggest star.
But there is also an utterly alternative way to look at this whole thing: that Canada is a mature, self-confident country with no need to project its brand outward. A country unconcerned that the millions watching on TV will either assume Kanye is a Canadian, or that Canada has no one even remotely as talented to carry the weight of top billing.
The truth is probably an unfortunate hybrid: that Toronto and Canada don’t sufficiently care – not because they are confident, but because they are oblivious.
See the petition to replace Kanye, now at 37,000 “signatures”.
Past Cache editions about Canada’s brand:
Is Canada’s Brand a Joke? November 2013
Viva La Lululemon January 2014
Sochi: A Bargain at Twice the Price February 2014
The Hip Anomaly: Does Canada Even Have a Brand for Netflix to Kill? October 2014
Tim Hortons: Brazilian as a Bikini Line December 2014
Coin Branding president Andris Pone is co-author of the Globe and Mail #1-bestselling Brand: It Ain’t the Logo and appears as a branding expert on CBC’s The National, CBC Radio One, the Globe and Mail, National Post and other media outlets.